With only a handful of games in the inaugural season left, it is time for those that cover Minnesota United to look towards next season. The lists of potential free agents have been released and FourFourTwo ranked those that appear to be the top targets.
The Loons look to have one true free agent and one with a league option for 2018 that needs to be picked. Barring a new contract before the offseason, Marc Burch is set to be a free agent (though it has been reported that he has already re-signed). Burch is working to come back from the injury he sustained quickly after his injury he sustained after coming over from the Colorado Rapids. There were rumors that he would be re-signed, but nothing concrete. Bobby Shuttleworth, on the other hand, has a league option for 2018 that will need to be picked up. I think the chances that the team lets the starting goalkeeper walk are slim to none.
But what about free agents from elsewhere? Which player or players would be great fit for the Loons to try and take a step forward in 2018? For the purposes of this article, I will not consider anyone who has a league option on the assumption that it will be picked up. (So, apologies to those who think that Clint Dempsey, Ike Opara, or Sacha Kljestan will don the Target Logo next season.)
Steven Beitashour was one of the main players that I was hoping would not be protected prior to the Expansion Draft. The Iranian national player is one of the most consistent fullbacks in the league and putting him opposite Jerome Thiesson would be a great way to start 2018.
Beitashour is likely to be highly sought after as he has contributed 5 assists this season. But as Paul Tenorio points out in the FourFourTwo article, Beitashour is likely set for a hefty salary and hefty cap hit. But, if the Loons want to spend on him, he would be a good addition.
One of the most recognizable faces, names, and heads of hair in MLS, adding Kyle Beckerman to run the midfield alongside Sam Cronin could be a great improvement for next season.
Beckerman is not the same player he was prior to the 2014 World Cup, and he will be 36 next season, but on a one-year contract or similar, he looks like he can still contribute to a team that needs a central midfielder. He may be positionally redundant with Cronin, but have two solid holding midfield options is a good problem to have.
The Loons certainly don’t need another winger, but Lamar Neagle may be too tempting a name to pass up. At age 30, he is still contributing with 2 goals this season and 9 last season. I think it is possible that the Loons cut ties with one of the 18 wingers on the roster currently, so with that in mind, Neagle would be a good replacement.
Neagle also can slot in up top as a backup to Christian Ramirez and Abu Danladi. Johan Venegas has not been a great option and the Brandon Allen loan does not appear to be adding much to the team makeup. A backup forward could very well be needed.
His salary is pretty high for a player who has only started 9 games this season, but he is a great option on the bench or for Cup depth.
Yes, I get it. Damarcus Beasley is getting very long in the tooth, but the fact remains that he can still play, he can still lead, and fullback options are slim in MLS. Beasley is no longer the player that was a USMNT stalwart, but he still has the talent to be opposite Thiesson. He also would also help Sam Cronin and Francisco Calvo as another voice of leadership for a team that sorely needs leaders.
Beasley may be ready to hang up his boots though, so the other thought would be a possible role on the bench with Adrian Heath.
(Other names to consider would be Nick Rimando, Chris Pontius, Brad Evans, Kevin Alston.)
Agree or disagree? Have your say below!